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Ordo Salutis 1: Original Sin

The bottom section of the ordo salutis begins with humanity made in the image of God. I probably should edit the diagram to include a break in the line where the Fall took place. Adam and Eve’s sin not only resulted in the curses of Genesis 3, but also the passing on of this ability and tendency to sin, to rebel against God, to think we know better than He.

God loves every human being as the supreme object of His creation. We were created in original righteousness. God’s love is a love that is not simply expressed as a hope to get back the creation that was lost to Him in sin, but a love that was tangibly shown in the midst of our rebellion. 

Original sin is a doctrine that says that every human has inherited the sinfulness of Adam. Not only do we commit acts of sin, but we are sinners, bent toward sin. If left to ourselves, we could not and would not choose to reconcile the broken relationship with God. To say that this sin “separates us” from God is not as simple as “God hates sin and cannot be in the presence of sinners.”

Sin can best be understood in terms of relationships. Wesley said sin is “every voluntary breach of the law of love” (Harper, p. 23). Sin is a broken relationship, made consciously or willingly. We broke the relationship with God, not the other way around.

Sin does not sneak up on us but arises out of us. Sin has become a very part of our nature; we sin because we are sinners; the image of God has been corrupted in us. We do not know how we have all been infected with sin because of Adam; we cannot explain how original sin has been passed down to us, but only that it has. 

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” 

Sin ultimately must be dealt with on a heart level. If God is to break the power of original sin in us, He must get to our hearts. This is why the normal ways we first attempt to deal with it don’t work: trying harder not to sin, obeying rules, conforming to standards, executing justice and judgment–none of them on its own gets to the heart of the matter. What Jeremiah is saying is that the heart is beyond cure in our own efforts. Our efforts betray that we’ve forgotten who we were made for; our sin blinds us to the brokenness of the relationship with God! Wesleyans believe that only God gets to the heart. 

In Romans 3:10-18 Paul is quoting lots of Old Testament Scripture (specifically Psalm 14:1-3; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Psalm 5:9; Psalm 140:3; Psalm 10:7; Isaiah 59:7-8; and Psalm 36:1). 
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”
13“Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
14“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16ruin and misery mark their ways,
17and the way of peace they do not know.”
18“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

In verse 9 he said that Jews and Gentiles alike are under the power of sin. Sin is the equalizer. 

If sin were a “thing,” we could cut it out of us somehow. But because sin is a sickness, our only option is transformation. Because sin is a broken relationship, our only option is God sending His Son to restore that relationship. And because sin is corruption of the image of God in us, we cannot do it on our own. Sin makes us dead toward God, stuck in self-captivity (making ourselves into gods), and helpless to change. It is Jesus Christ, both fully God and fully human, who accomplishes the work of redemption and righteousness in us. And the great hope we have goes beyond mere forgiveness to holiness. 

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